Islamist militants have burnt a church and taken Christians hostage in Marawi, a city on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Around 100 armed men launched an assault on Marawi on Tuesday (23 May), prompting thousands of residents to flee and leading the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to impose martial law across the whole of Mindanao. A local Christian leader said that the Islamists seized a pastor, ten worshippers and three church workers, and are threatening to kill them unless the government withdraws its security forces. There are also reports that a policemen has been beheaded by Islamists.
Please pray for the safe return of Pastor Teresito ‘Chito’ Suganob and the 13 other Christians kidnapped from his church.
Armed men raided St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday and abducted the 14 Christians. As well as setting light to the cathedral, they also burned down three buildings of the church-owned Dansalan College.
The Filipino army engaged in firefights with militants whom the Government has since identified as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group: two soldiers and a police chief were killed. President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law in Mindanao, an island with a significant Muslim population.
- Pray for our Christian family in the Philippines, especially in the south of the country where several Islamist terrorist groups have been active.
- Pray especially for wisdom for church leaders in the southern Philippines: several pastors have been held hostage by terrorists.
- Pray that God will thwart the plans of the men of violence, including the Maute Group, considered one of the newest but most feared terror groups in the country.
(Sources: BBC, Morning Star News)
The government of the Philippines has been engaged in a decades-long conflict with Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, which has a significant Muslim population. The previous government agreed a peace deal with some Islamist armed groups in 2014 and also proposed creating an autonomous region in Bangsamoro – an area which includes the city of Marawi – with its own laws, which would have allowed for the implementation of sharia. Public opposition to the deal has resulted in the legislation to enact it being delayed, and some Islamists have continued their violent campaign.
From Aljazeera here